21 November 2017

North Korea

North Korea: Take hydrogen bomb test threat ‘literally’

KOFRONTASI - A high-ranking North Korean official has warned that Pyongyang’s threats of testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean should be taken "literally." 

During a Wednesday interview with CNN, the North Korean Foreign Ministry official, Ri Yong-pil, stressed that his country "has always brought its words into action."

While addressing the United Nations General Assembly last month, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho announced that the North may test a powerful hydrogen bomb in the near future.

North Korea diplomat says take atmospheric nuclear test threat 'literally'

KONFRONTASI-The recent warning from North Korea’s foreign minister of a possible atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean should be taken literally, a senior North Korean official told CNN in an interview aired on Wednesday.

“The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” Ri Yong Pil, a senior diplomat in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, told CNN.

U.S. diplomacy with North Korea to continue until 'first bomb drops'

KONFRONTASI-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that President Donald Trump had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying “those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Tillerson downplayed messages that President Trump had previously posted on Twitter suggesting Tillerson was wasting his time trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man,” a derogatory nickname Trump has coined for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump: military option for North Korea not preferred, but would be 'devastating'

KONFRONTASI-President Donald Trump warned North Korea on Tuesday that any U.S. military option would be “devastating” for Pyongyang, but said the use of force was not Washington’s first option to deal with the country’s ballistic and nuclear weapons program.

“We are totally prepared for the second option, not a preferred option,” Trump said at a White House news conference, referring to military force. “But if we take that option, it will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea. That’s called the military option. If we have to take it, we will.”

Bellicose statements by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in recent weeks have created fears that a miscalculation could lead to action with untold ramifications, particularly since Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

Despite the increased tension, the United States has not detected any change in North Korea’s military posture reflecting an increased threat, the top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday.

The assessment by Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, about Pyongyang’s military stance was in contrast to a South Korean lawmaker who said Pyongyang had boosted defenses on its east coast.

“While the political space is clearly very charged right now, we haven’t seen a change in the posture of North Korean forces, and we watch that very closely,” Dunford told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his reappointment to his post.

In terms of a sense of urgency, “North Korea certainly poses the greatest threat today,” Dunford testified.

A U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity said satellite imagery had detected a small number of North Korean military aircraft moving to the North’s east coast. However the official said the activity did not change their assessment of Pyongyang’s military posture.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused Trump of declaring war on the North and threatened that Pyongyang would shoot down U.S. warplanes flying near the Korean Peninsula after American bombers flew close to it last Saturday. Ri was reacting to Trump’s Twitter comments that Kim and Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats toward the United States.

North Korea has been working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, which Trump has said he will never allow. Dunford said Pyongyang will have a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile “soon,” and it was only a matter of a “very short time”.

“We clearly have postured our forces to respond in the event of a provocation or a conflict,” the general said, adding that the United States has taken “all proper measures to protect our allies” including South Korean and Japan.

“It would be an incredibly provocative thing for them to conduct a nuclear test in the Pacific as they have suggested, and I think the North Korean people would have to realize how serious that would be, not only for the United States but for the international community,” Dunford said.

South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-uoo, briefed by the country’s spy agency, said North Korea was bolstering its defenses by moving aircraft to its east coast and taking other measures after the flight by U.S. bombers. Lee said the United States appeared to have disclosed the flight route intentionally because North Korea seemed to be unaware.

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers, escorted by fighter jets, flew east of North Korea in a show of force after the heated exchange of rhetoric between Trump and Kim.

The United States has imposed sanctions on 26 people as part of its non-proliferation designations for North Korea and nine banks, including some with ties to China, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office Of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions said on Tuesday.

The U.S. sanctions target people in North Korea and some North Korean nationals in China, Russia, Libya and Dubai, according to a list posted on the agency’s website.

US prepared to take 'devastating' military action against North Korea: Trump

KONFRONTASI - US President Donald Trump says Washington is "totally prepared" to take a “devastating” military action against Pyongyang as rhetoric heats up between the two countries following the recent spate of tit-for-tat barbs.

‘North Korea boosts defenses’ amid tensions with US

KONFRONTASI - A South Korean report says North Korea has been reinforcing defenses on its east coast, amid a rising risk of a military confrontation with the United States.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said in a report on Tuesday that Pyongyang had been moving aircraft to its east coast and taking other measures to boost its defenses.

China urges restraint amid war of words between Trump and North Korea

KONFRONTASI-China on Monday called for all sides in the North Korea missile crisis to show restraint and not “add oil to the flames” amid an exchange of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the U.S. mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump said on Twitter late on Saturday.

North Korea, which has pursued its missile and nuclear programmers in defiance of international condemnation, said it “bitterly condemned the reckless remarks” of the U.S. president, saying they were an “intolerable insult to the Korean people” and a declaration of war, the North’s official news agency said on Monday.

In an unprecedented direct statement on Friday, Kim described Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” whom he would tame with fire.

Kim said the North would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States and that Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programs was “the correct path”.

Trump threatened in his maiden U.N. address on Tuesday to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people if North Korea threatened the United States or its allies.

Asked how concerned China was the war of words between Trump and North Korea could get out of control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang described the situation as highly complex and sensitive.

It was vitally important everyone strictly, fully and correctly implemented all North Korea related U.N. resolutions, Lu said, resolutions which call for both tighter sanctions and efforts to resume dialogue.

All sides should “not further irritate each other and add oil to the flames of the tense situation on the peninsula at present”, Lu told a daily news briefing.

“We hope all sides do not continue doing things to irritate each other and should instead exercise restraint.”

Speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May by telephone, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the North Korean issue should be resolved peacefully via talks, state media said.

China hopes Britain can play a constructive role in easing the situation and pushing for a resumption in talks, Xi added. May, like some other U.S. allies, has pushed for China to do more on North Korea.

Downing Street said the two leaders agreed there was a particular responsibility for China and Britain, as permanent Security Council members, to help find a diplomatic solution.

“They agreed the U.K. and China should continue working closely together to increase pressure on the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear programs,” a spokesman said.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on Sept. 3, prompting another round of U.N. sanctions. Pyongyang said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea describes Trump's threat as ‘declaration of war’

KONFRONTASI - In an open letter to international leaders, a North Korean parliamentary committee has called for “sharp vigilance” with regards to the United States, saying recent remarks by US President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) constituted a declaration of war against Pyongyang.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s Parliament, released the letter on Sunday, condemning Trump’s “ignorant” threats made during his UN speech, the official KCNA reported on Monday.

North Korea ‘may test hydrogen bomb in Pacific’ in response to Trump's threat

KONFRONTASI - North Korea’s foreign minister says Pyongyang is considering a powerful nuclear weapon test in the Pacific Ocean in response to US President Donald Trump’s recent threat against the North.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who is due to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the weekend, told reporters in New York that the ultimate decision for the hydrogen bomb test rested with leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump announces new sanctions on North Korea

KONFRONTASI - US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on North Korea, days after he threatened to “totally destroy” the nuclear-armed nation.

Speaking at United Nations headquarters in New York City on Thursday, Trump said the order would increase the American ability to clamp down on individuals and companies that do business with North Korea.

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